If you go down to the prison today you sure will have a big surprise.
The first premium downloadable story driven content for Dragon Age II has finally been released, after the developers received response from the fans and the community, they wanted to listen to the feedback and bring a better experience for the critically acclaimed franchise. In the main adventure you could only travel around Kirkwall and you did not get to see any decent locations, so Bioware took this feedback and have listened.
Hawke and his / her family have been attacked by the cartel, a vicious criminal who wants “the blood of the Hawke’s” for an unknown reason and you must end their attacks once and for all. The downloadable content starts with poor Varric being interrogated by the Chantery who want to know more about the champion and why he / she was there. Outside of Kirkwall is a place called the Vimmark Mountains, a deserted wasteland; it is a place that does not exist according to Varric our story teller. Hawke and the gang must track down who has been attacking the family and for what reason.
Depending on who is still alive from the main campaign you can bring along a family member, either Carter or Bethany. You can access the content in the Hawke estate or your uncle’s house by finding a griffin statue; the downloadable content is all about the family lineage after all. Once you arrive at the Vimmark Mountains you get ambushed by the Carta group in the middle of nowhere, and find out the reason behind the attacks on your family. You enter an ancient Grey warden prison that was built to stop any ancient horror, but things are not what they seem to be. A quiet strange character has a tale or two once you travel further into the prison. The level design has improved somewhat, instead of visiting the same old room you now have a chance to explore the area, but the levels still lack in exploration making it feel quite linear at times. The companions in the party have a few new lines of banter and your love interest can also provide a little help now and again. The lighting detail is still top notch for the content, especially when entering the prison with the green mist which makes the atmosphere scary.
Reading notes left around on tables gives you some information about the people you are up against and also lore of the place you are in. You receive a weapon which acts as a key, allowing you to open seals that prevent you from leaving (but who would want to leave this eerie place). A guardian protects the seals, which once defeated gives you the chance to upgrade the key; there are four pillars you can choose from but only one can be used. As you go further down the tower you come to more pillars which allow the weapon to be upgraded three times. Once you have completed the downloadable content you can bring the weapon into the main campaign and use it through your adventure and further new content as it’s released.
The content gives you an additional three to four hours to the main story and you can start the content anytime in the main campaign. The story does feel slow at the start but gradually speeds up towards the dramatic climax. Bioware have learned from their mistakes with this content but could have added another location to visit instead of the tower and the mountains.
Overall the story lacked somewhat in length and did not cover the grey wardens enough, you did fight against four new type of Darkspawn but once you have faced them it becomes repetitive. This is only the first premium content for Dragon Age II but there will be more adventures for Hawke in the future.